Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $129 - $186 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Highly featured, super comfy, breathable/well ventilated
Cons: Heavy, fairly expensive
Best Uses: Recreational backpacking, hiking, light climbing, around town
The Oracle was one of the favorite jackets that we tested. It is chock full of thoughtful design features like the Angel-Wing Movement™ and is the most comfortable of all the rain jackets that we tested. The jacket performed well in all of our testing, and it simply became, and continues to be, the jacket that we reached for the most when heading out on a rainy day jog, or a jaunt around town on a foggy day. We liked the ample features of the jacket as well as the performance and durability of the fabric. The jacket is, however, very heavy compared to other rain jackets we tested and comes with a hefty price tag. We might liken the jacket more to a lightweight hardshell than traditional rain jacket. As with any rain jacket, breathability can be challenging so layering with a synthetic base layer in high intensity adventures is key. For a more budget Marmot rain jacket, try the Marmot Precip Jacket - Women's. For a lighter jacket with equal or greater rain protection, check out our Editors' Choice: Patagonia Rain Shadow - Women's.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfort & Mobility
With the Oracle’s entire collar lined with micro fleece, adding warmth and slightly fortifying the collar, as well as the fleece lined cuffs, the comfort appeal is obvious. We felt like we were actually wearing a jacket when we put it on. We found the jacket to be cut properly, allowing for easy freedom of movement while maintaining good coverage in an “arms up” position. Another simple but surprising feature was the roomy hood: in rain gear specifically women are always looking for a hood that can fit all our hair, worn both up and down. This hood can be worn with a bun, ponytail, etc. and still be cinched down well to keep the head dry - which is a silly yet helpful option missing from other jackets we tested.
Marmot’s fabric is durable and of superior manufacture. The Oracle can easily crossover as a shell for skiing or other winter and spring activities with a few serious layers. We found the jackets withstood abrasive conditions (heavy bushwhacking) very well, leaving it just as waterproof as ever. We didn't experience any puncturing or tearing on any part of the jacket.
While the fabric doesn’t breathe that well, an intelligent feature of this jacket is the incorporation of large mesh lined pockets on the front of the jacket that allow ventilation, dramatically improving breathability during serious activities with little loss of weather protection.
No rain jackets tested proved to be exceptionally breathable. Pretty much all the jackets boast a “waterproof breathable technology” of some kind, but we urge consumers to interpret these claims loosely. We found that when we wore the jackets for any kind of high exertion activity (and we pointedly took at least one hard one-hour run in each jacket… in the rain, in addition to climbing in them, hiking in them, walking in them and biking in them) we found that each of us swiftly created something akin to sub-tropical weather inside the jacket. The only relief from our self-made monsoons was that each jacket tested had armpit zippers to let out some of moisture. All in all, a good design
As with all the rain shells we tested, the Women’s Oracle is entirely waterproof. With 20,000mm in water resistance, Marmot’s layered MemBrain® Strata™ fabric is a success and we didn’t have any leaking or seeping inside the jacket. All the seams are taped and the zippers are all housed in storm flaps.
Weight and Bulk
The Women’s Oracle weighed the most of all the rain jackets we tested, eliminating it for those who value lightness over features, style, and performance. At 14.3 ounces it is unsuitable for certain weight specific undertakings, but it is a fair amount lighter than the men’s version. If your significant requirement is in ounces you might consider Patagonia Rain Shadow or Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket.
We noticed and appreciated all the solicitous features that Marmot packed onto this jacket. Many of the shells that we tested felt like a tent rain fly with sleeves – they could really only live up to the name "shell." The most obvious attribute of the Oracle is the more tailored cut of the jacket – someone noticed we have a waist and bum! The arm length of the coat is perfect; we noticed and approve the Angel-Wing Movement™ design as well. The slightly longer waist in front and more so in back (when we were running around town, jogging, hiking or biking our backsides stayed dry!) provided a comfortable cut that was well suited to actual performance in the different climates we tested in. The Women’s Oracle was the closest thing we tested to a lightweight coat that could be used for a wider range of applications, instead of being a single function slicker. The Patagonia Rain Shadow has a slicker look at first glance, but the Oracle really delivers a much better product.
None of the competition came close to combining utility with style as well as the Marmot Women’s Oracle. Whether providing ample room in the hood for hair in its many shapes or feminine tailoring, this rain jacket is well above the competition. All the small features added up to a superior product here. Most of the shells we tested had a minimalist feel and generally only had two or three pockets. The Oracle has five; a little excessive maybe, but still useful at times. The best pocket that the jacket has included is the interior waterproof pocket that is perfect for stashing your electronic devices, keeping them away from the outside rain and the condensation inside the jacket. The Oracle also packs down nice and small inside one of the pockets for maximum packability. And as a bonus, the hood zips completely off and the cinches are easily operated for adequate adjustability. While we didn’t use this feature, we thought it was a good design feature, and it’s nice to have the option. The waistline cinches are the easiest to operate of all the rain shells we tested. The loose ends of the elastic cord are threaded through the inside of the pockets, so all it takes is a quick pull on the cord in the pocket and the waist cinches up tight. The only questionable feature additions would be in including Velcro at the side pockets, creating a catch with the sleeve Velcro constantly. Furthermore, the cozy light grey collar and sleeve lining is going to be difficult to keep clean. The Marmot website touts this fabric as a tool to wick away moisture, which is code for sweat, but you don’t regularly throw a rain slicker in the wash so you could be looking at a fabric that will get kind of gross if you use this jacket for real adventures.
At $165 this was the second most expensive shell that we tested. That's a hefty price tag, but the jacket does come with a lot of cool features.
Marmot Precip ($99) is the bare bones version ($65 less)
— Erisa Coppernoll and Robert Beno
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 27, 2012
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